Jo and Andy Watt get Pride of Edinburgh nomination

Jo and Andy, pictured with Darrin and Jeni, are 'embarrassed' to be nominated. Picture: Neil Hanna
Jo and Andy, pictured with Darrin and Jeni, are 'embarrassed' to be nominated. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THEY may think they are only doing what anyone would – but we know they are extra special.

Respite carers Jo and Andy Watt are among the latest nominees for a Pride of Edinburgh award and say they feel “slightly embarrassed” to be in line for the Carer of the Year honour.

But Jeni Kirk, of Wester Hailes, believes they are true heroes, saying her family may not have survived without them being part of her son Darrin’s life for 15 years.

The Carer of the Year category, sponsored by Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation, which provides funding for projects not normally funded by the health service, has inspired some of the most touching nominations submitted so far.

Mother-of-three Ms Kirk, who also has two older children, Toni-Marie, 23, and Michael, 22, said of the couple: “When Jo and Andy came into our lives it was like a massive weight had been lifted from all our shoulders.

“Darrin has a condition called microcephaly, which means he has a mental age of about four. When he was very young I was a single parent, and I found it extremely difficult to cope. I honestly don’t know where we would be now without them. They don’t treat him like a job, but like he’s part of their family.”

When Darrin turns 19 at the end of this month he will no longer be eligible for the respite care programme which brought him and the Watts together.

“I wanted to nominate them because I knew I had to do something to show them how much their help and support has meant to us.”

But the Watts have brushed aside any suggestion that they’re doing anything out of the ordinary. Andy, 62, a retired police officer, said: “I’d estimate well over 100 children have come through our home over the years. We are slightly embarrassed by the attention – we don’t do it for awards, we do it because it’s something we should do, something I would encourage anyone who could to do.”

As well as their three sons, Thomas, 38, Michael, 35, and Graham, 31, who is also now a respite carer, the couple adopted twin girls, Katy and Laura, now 26, who first came to them as foster children aged only nine months, and have also opened their home to Rizwan, 13, who has cerebral palsy and has been living with them for the past 12 years. The Watts also provide respite care to several other special needs children on different nights of the week.

“We’ll miss having Darrin with us regularly, but we’ll still be seeing him on special occasions, so it’s not goodbye.”

The Pride of Edinburgh Awards is seeking more nominations for The Health Champion of the Year Award, which is sponsored by Lidl Health Factor. Winners will be announced on May 16. Visit to nominate your choices.

How to nominate

THE Pride of Edinburgh awards are open to anyone who lives in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Winners will be announced on Friday, May 16, at the Assembly Rooms.

The easiest way to nominate someone for The Pride of Edinburgh Awards is by visiting

This dedicated website will allow you to choose which category you wish to enter, as well as allowing you to tell us all about your nominee.

If you prefer to enter by post, please send your entry to Edinburgh Evening News, The Pride of Edinburgh Awards, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS. Entries must include your name, address and telephone number.

Please make it clear which category you wish to enter your nominee for and explain why you think they deserve to win the award.

The closing date for entries is Monday, April 21.

See Also:

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